Folks, I’m a huge advocate of a positive mindset. Positivity is NOT a magic wand but most everything in life goes better when you walk on the Sunny Side of the Street. BUT you must meet people where they are at, you must be sensitive to “from whence they come”. To be there emotionally for someone or to negotiate effectively, you must establish rapport, you must be able to synch with them. Poking people (including yourself!) with excessive positivity can backfire under certain circumstances.

If someone is angry or upset and you overdo speaking in overly soothing tones (or use therapy speak) that makes it all too obvious that you are trying to placate them and you risk losing or even offending them. Sometimes it is better to raise your voice slightly, reflect back content and perhaps add inflection that demonstrates understanding (which you can do without agreeing with them): “Wow! You were treated without respect? That would upset anyone.”

Nuances can be important; note that “Wow! You feel you were treated without respect? That would upset most anyone.” is a slightly different phrasing that in most cases would not matter but might if someone were hyper-sensitive, very defensive or trust was particularly low. Once a person feels understood, they generally calm down and two-way communication becomes much more probable.

Sometimes it’s okay not to be okay for a while. Positivity should never be allowed to become a form of denial. Feelings need to be understood and processed (though not obsessively; balance, balance, balance); bottling up strong negative feelings is not a recipe for mental health. It is a matter of self-knowledge which situations and feelings can be released as “water under the bridge” and which ones need to be journaled, reviewed, understood, delayered.

Closing Quotes:

“Feelings buried alive never die.” – Proverb

“Telling someone not to worry advocates for suppression of their feelings rather than discussing why the feeling itself is present.” – Anju Felix

“Toxic Positivity: The over generalization of a happy, optimistic state that results in the denial, minimization and invalidation of authentic human emotional experience.” – Unknown

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier